A coroner recorded an open verdict today into the death of a Sussex police inspector found strangled by his washing line.

Andrew Parr, 42, was found dead in his garden in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, on May 21 by his wife Zoe.

West Sussex deputy coroner Martin Milward said that although he was satisfied that the father-of-three had killed himself, he could not be sure that he had intended to do so.

A fast-track inquest held in Chichester today heard that Mr Parr, who joined Sussex Police in 1991 after being transferred from the Metropolitan Police, had never expressed any thoughts about wanting to end his life and was not depressed.

A statement read out on behalf of Mrs Parr heard that in March she had lost her job at Principles following the closure of the store she worked in.

This had a "great effect" on her mental state as she had worked there for 20 years.

The following month she told her husband of 13 years that she was unhappy and no longer loved him.

He went to stay with his parents in Eastbourne for a few days but returned home.

Then, on the evening of May 20 the couple were watching TV in bed when there was a comment on the programme about somebody losing someone and she told him, "you nearly lost me".

Mr Parr replied, "you nearly lost me too," and told her he would sleep in the dining room that night.

Later on, when their sleep was disturbed by their four-year-old daughter Tilly coughing, he shouted up the stairs, "I've lost you haven't I?"

The inquest heard that Mrs Parr shouted back not to discuss the issue in front of the children, and she then heard him "banging around" downstairs before leaving the house.

The next morning she took the children to school and noticed that his car was still outside and he had left his keys and mobile phone behind.

She called her mother who advised her to check for him in the garage and in the shed, but she saw from a window that the shed was locked from the outside so did not bother going out into the garden.

Mrs Parr went to work where she called a friend to discuss the situation with her, and she decided to return home.

She walked through the house and into the garden, where she saw her husband sitting on a plant pot with the washing line around his neck.

A post-mortem examination found that he had died of hanging by ligature around the neck.

The inquest heard that police had attended the scene and were satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances.

After hearing all the evidence, Mr Milward said: "Matters that give me some doubt in this case are that although the nature of death is often associated with an intention, the position he was found gives me some concern as he was sitting down, he wasn't actually suspended.

"He had never given any indication that he was considering ending his life and he left no suicide note.

"Given all those factors I think it would be wrong for me to be sure that he had any intention.

"My verdict or conclusion therefore in this case is that I've come to an open verdict which means that there is insufficient evidence for me to come to any conclusion or any other verdict."

Mr Milward also expressed his condolences to Mr Parr's family and friends.

The couple had two other children, Toby, 11, and Imogen, nine.

Mr Parr's sudden death caused shock across the police force.

His career in Sussex saw him hold positions across the county, including in Crawley, Gatwick, Bognor Regis and Brighton and Hove, and he was based at the West Downs division when he died.

In June 2007 he made national headlines when he announced plans to deploy extra officers on the streets of Brighton during full moons after linking levels of violent crime and the lunar cycle.

His death led to tributes from Sussex Police Chief Constable Martin Richards, who described him as a "popular and valued member of our team" in a message to officers.